This morning my mind was going a million miles a minute and I thought about the verse that talks about ‘taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.’ I envisioned all my thoughts coming at me like so many airplanes flying into an airport and I had to take each one and say, you go there, you wait, you circle around, you don’t belong here.
I was praying about “social graces.” I was wondering about the gaps in my life, things I don’t know about myself, my deficiencies. And I wondered, what are the things about me that everybody around me notices, but I am unaware of them—like bad breath. We all hate to be the person with bad breath, or obnoxious manners. These are simple things we could possibly change without much effort if we only knew about them.
I have some friends who will tell me if I have something between my teeth. Others are embarrassed or don’t want to make me uncomfortable. I would rather be uncomfortable for a moment than go home and look in the mirror and think of all the people that saw me with food between my teeth.
So I was going on a rant, and I really don’t believe in going on a rant. I think it’s selfish and childish. So I was being a bit selfish and childish for a moment, because I am sometimes not very mature. I really don’t have a full grasp on stuff.
I was telling God that I know that we are instructed in the Bible to ask, seek, and knock if we need something. I’ve been doing a lot of asking and seeking and knocking, I told God. An awful lot of it. And an awful lot of waiting in between. Why do I have to ask and seek and knock so much? And why does it take so long to get answers?
What kind of a God makes his people ask for days and weeks, and keep on knocking and seeking without answers? Is he the kind of God who withholds from us because he can, because we are so puny we don’t deserve his immediate attention? Or is there some kind of lesson we need to learn by waiting?
I had two specific pictures in mind. When we lived in the Philippines I needed to order some furniture from a woman who ran a rattan business. I waited and waited outside of her house, until, about half an hour after I arrived, she came outside with her wet hair in a towel. Needless to say, I was not impressed. Is God like that? He has more important things to do?
Another picture was of a man I worked alongside who was watching me paint a barn. I think I was using a step ladder and after a few hours he suggested I get a longer handle for my brush. I thought, that would save me a lot of time. Why didn’t he tell me sooner? In fact I asked him, and he basically told me he was waiting to see if I would think of it myself. This ticked me off.
Is God like that?
I know I sound like Job, only much worse, because he was a righteous man, and he was truly suffering. My case is very negligible in comparison. But God’s response, when he finally replied to Job’s accusations, was, “Where were you when….?”
In other words, I have always felt that he put Job in his place, quite nicely. A bit of sarcasm there, I admit.
It’s just if God is the God of the universes, loves us, hears all of our words and knows our thoughts before we even think them, then why does he consider it important to delay his response?
This is the answer I got.
Go to a particular Starbucks. Sit there and have a coffee.
“But when do I do this? I need to make a plan. Do you expect me to do this before work, because I really don’t think I would have time. It is a very long drive. I don’t even know where it is on the map, whether it’s on this side or that side of the water. Do you want me to go after work? Do you want me to go today, or just sometime? What am I supposed to do there? Wait for someone to come and talk to me and tell me, “God told me to tell you….” I mean that would be pretty amazing. I’m probably just supposed to sit there quietly, drink my coffee, make some observations and leave.”
“I want you to set aside time for me. The answers will flow out of that. I want you to plan time to listen. The answers will flow out of that. You think I can just drop everything and attend to you, but no. I am making plans. Plans take time to work out. So if you spend time with me, you will get the picture. And you won’t be asking so many questions. You won’t be doing so much seeking and knocking. You have to ask and seek and knock because you are not there. You haven’t got an in. If you spend time with me, you will become calmer, more assured. You will ask less, knock less, seek less. Set some time aside for coffee with me.”
Ok. God. Thank you for pointing out the stuff between my teeth. And thank you that there is hope for me. Thank you that you still want to have coffee with me. I am so looking forward to it. And I want to spend some time thinking about, “Where were you when….?”